There has been a huge surge of interest in the cause of Welsh Independence in the last few years, with Plaid Cymru moving to a more unequivocal position than its earlier confused stance; the establishment of new independence supporting parties such as Gwlad and Propel; and, most importantly the rise of Yes Cymru.
One of the more significant developments has been the establishment of the pressure group ‘Labour for an Independent Wales’ (L4IW). The Labour Party have dominated the political scene in Wales for more than a century and the support of Welsh Labour voters is essential if we are to achieve our goal of independence.
Back in the 1970s Labour was vehemently opposed to devolution and the vocal opposition of the likes of Neil Kinnock ensured that our first opportunity to secure an Assembly failed. Labour only started to support devolution in the 1990s in response to the excesses of the Thatcher governments, but its support was only lukewarm and there were still many opposed to devolution who used every opportunity to de-value the Assembly and constrain its powers and status.
Even after the successful referendum in 1997 and establishment of the Assembly in 1999, there was significant opposition to increased powers and it took a further 20 years of slow incremental change to get to the Senedd that we see today. These changes only came about when Labour decided to allow them, and many other possible changes – for example the devolution of policing and justice, and devolution of rail infrastructure – were blocked when Labour had the opportunity to implement them, but decided not to.
Which is why the establishment of a pro-independence group within the inherently unionist Labour party was initially seen as a positive development which deserved broad support. Despite it going against Labour Party policy, a number of candidates in the recent Senedd election declared their open support for independence, although none of these candidates were in winnable seats. The group also stood candidates for election to the Central Committee of Yes Cymru in order to have representation to influence the direction of the wider independence movement. It is fair to say that this strategy has not been a resounding success but let’s leave that aside for now.
But in recent weeks there has been a softening of commitment to independence with a Tweet made by Bob Jones – the Chairman of Labour for an Independent Wales asking what is the point of independence?
Another tweet was made from the official Twitter account of L4IW clearly stated that L4IW are more interested in creating a Socialist State than in achieving an independent Wales.
Just a side note – I have often voted for Labour in Wales but along with many others I have never voted for a Socialist State!
The Point of Independence
To come back to Bob’s question, the point of independence is not simply to swap flags – it is to give us control of our society and economy. To enable us to develop and implement policies which are for the benefit of Wales and its people. Wales has consistently voted for Labour party polices but has only occasionally been able to implement these policies as the voters of Middle England typically determine what happens in Wales – and they are extremely unlikely to ever vote for a socialist utopia.
If I was a cynic I might think that the only reason for establishing L4IW was to prevent independence-minded Labour voters in Wales from switching their votes to Plaid Cymru. Recent polls have indicated half of Welsh Labour voters would support independence and if these all switched to Plaid then Welsh Labour would be in big trouble. L4IW are only interested in an independent Wales if it is conditional on achieving their socialist vision. If they can’t achieve that they would prefer to stay under Westminster Rule, and they should be honest about that. They are behaving like a spoilt child who takes his football back if he can’t win.
Gwlad Commitment to Independence
Unlike L4IW, Gwlad’s commitment to independence is unequivocal and unconditional. We have a vision for an independent Wales which is very different from that of Labour or Plaid, but we will fight the electoral battle to promote our policies pre-independence and post-independence. If we are successful we can implement our policies. If not, we will accept the will of the electorate – but we will never make our support for independence conditional on our success.